Social Networking Advice for the Antisocial

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Writing is a solitary endeavor, but does it have to be a lonely one? Absolutely not. In fact, it’s beneficial for writers to interact with other authors in order to exchange information, market their work, and build their readership. It literally pays for authors to be social.

While attending the weekly Business Professionals Meeting at Ivy Tech in Peru, I learned some advice on social networking that I thought applied to writers, not just business owners. And I’m going to share it with you!

Use Social Media to Connect with Authors, Editors, Agents, & Readers

Social networking doesn’t just happen in the “real world.” It happens wherever people interact. One of the most popular places people go to hangout is online. You already use Facebook and Twitter to stay connected with family and friends, so why not use these social media sites to meet other authors and new readers? There are hundreds, if not thousands, of them online. You can interact with others via private message or by replying to their posts. Sharing other people’s content is another great way to interact. Once you build a positive rapport, they will be more receptive to your marketing messages or requests for help.

Attend as Many “Real World” Events as Possible

Writers conferences, book fairs, local readings, book launches, and library events are great opportunities to network with authors and readers. Plus, they’re educational. Just keep in mind, it’s not about selling; it’s about making friends, and building a readership.

Bring Marketing Material

I always take a stack of business cards and/or bookmarks with me to events. In fact, I keep a stack of each in my car just in case I run into a new friend. That way, they have links to my social media sites and a reminder that we met. Let’s face it, no matter how cool you are, people get busy and might forget you. A bookmark is a great reminder.

Follow up

Meeting someone at a networking event or following someone online is just the first step in beginning a relationship. Take those business cards home and send an email, connect on Twitter, or send an invite for coffee or lunch. Main point: stay in touch. And be patient. I once knew a prospective reader one year before they finally bought a copy of my book. It only took 3 touches. They say a sale can take 7, so that’s pretty good.

Give a Little More than You Take

I am reminded of a really corny song from Dreamwork’s animated feature Joseph, King of Dreams. Whereas the song had nothing to do with the events in the movie, it applies greatly to networking. The most successful authors are the ones who give advice and promote others. Why? Because helping others encourages them to help you.

Give it Time

Take your time and grow your network organically. No fertilizer. Don’t be tempted to buy followers in order to reach your goal overnight. The most successful authors get to know their contacts one person at a time via small events and private chat. Remember, it’s quality over quantity.

I hope you found this advice as helpful as I did. Please feel free to share your own advice in the comments below. Have a great week!

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Upcoming Author Event: Read Local Library Book Fair at KHCPL

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Most aspiring authors dream of becoming a famous published author who travels all around the world attending book signings and author events. But let’s face it, the reality is a far cry from the dream, especially for us Indie authors who practically have to beg for opportunities to showcase our works.

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Come say ‘hi’ and get an autographed copy of my book while supplies lasts!

For me, the opportunity came sooner than expected. This Friday the Kokomo-Howard County Public Library is hosting an event for local authors, such as myself, to share our works of fiction with the local community. The event is from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. at the main branch. During this time, 30 plus authors from Howard county and several surrounding counties, including my close friend Teresa Robison, will be available to meet readers and sign autographs.

The goal of the event is to encourage reading, the idea being that “If you meet an author of a book, it enhances your reading experience, takes it to a new level.” -Lisa Fipps, director of marketing and community co-organizer of the author fair. The second goal is to showcase the talent of local writers, providing them a venue to sell their books. I’ll be given one table and two chairs to meet with readers on this date. If you’re in the area, feel free to stop on by and say hi!

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Yeah, even my book has a glamour shot!

The book I’ll be showcasing at this event is my debut novel, The Quest for the Holy Something or Other, an Arthurian parody that centers around the misadventures of Sir Kay and his page, Pig, as they seek out the elusive holy . . . whatever it is. If you’re unable to attend the event, or live too dang far away, please visit Amazon to order your copy today!

As always, thank you for stopping by! Happy Hump Day, everyone!

#Hashtag Overuse: Why It’s Bad and How to Avoid It

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For those of you who use social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or Instagram, to promote your writing, you are probably already familiar with hashtags (#). Hashtags are used to tag words or unspaced phrases in order to connect it to similar information online. The idea is that other users can find your tweet (or post) when searching that word or phrase. The problem is, when too many people are using the same hashtags–the ones that are popular–yours might be buried. Another problem is hashtag overuse. Too many hashtags can ruin the aesthetics of a tweet and can overwhelm the eyes. Hashtag overuse can drive away potential followers while driving your current followers nuts. Don’t believe me? Just check out the video below.

So, should you use hashtags or not? Yes, but sparingly. General rule of thumb: include no more than three hashtags per tweet. (I favor one or two). Fewer hashtags are more aesthetically pleasing and more readable. Too many hashtags can be a turn-off to potential followers. Another suggestion, put some thought into your hashtags. Just don’t tag words willy nilly. Tag the most important words in the tweet, that way you are highlighting what is actually important and attracting the appropriate audience. Your followers will appreciate it.

I hope this was helpful to you. As always, comments are welcome. #Thankyou4stoppingby! Just kidding, but really, thank you for stopping by:)

Writers, Get off the Island and Join an Online Community

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In a recent post, I discussed writing as a full-time career and the things to consider before taking the plunge. Several published authors commented to my blog post and shared their personal thoughts on the subject. To my surprise, none of them discussed the financial strains of writing for a living; instead, they focused on social isolation as the main frustration. To me, this would seem a small drawback compared to financial insecurity, but when you consider the implications of social isolation, it makes sense. Think about it. Writing is a solitary process that can be very frustrating at times. It demands a lot of time and self-sacrifice. Unless writers have support at home, they often become depressed, lonely, and discouraged. Even with support from loved ones, a writer can feel alone, like being strandard on an island with only a laptop for company. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

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Being a writer can feel like being strandard on an island with only your laptop for company. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

The internet has made it easier than ever for writers to connect with like-minded and supportive individuals and build an online community!

Facebook is a good place to start. You can create an individual profile that includes information about yourself, your writing, etc. Many people use Facebook to connect with family and friends, so why not use Facebook to connect with other writers and readers? You can also join or create a Facebook group. Facebook has a new messenger feature that allows friends to chat to one another in real time.

Twitter is probably the most popular social networking site being used by writers. It’s easy to gain a large following and share resources. Many writers use Twitter for promotion and advertising of their writing, but it’s more beneficial to focus on networking. There is a private message option, but most interaction happens on the timeline in real time.

Blogging is a great outlet for writers to share information, vent frustrations, and discuss all things writerly (Is that a word?). WordPress and other blog sites allow writers share their thoughts and ideas in more depth. It’s a great way to build a readership and an online community. Interact by commenting on other bloggers’ posts, inviting others to guest blog on your site, and by conducting interviews of other authors. The more interactive you are on a blog site, the more engaged your readers will be.

Online Groups such as WANAtribe and The Insecure Writer’s Support Group are also great places for writers to connect and share resources, as well as frustrations. These websites often include forums and online chat features that enable members to share ideas and chat in real time. These sites often invite guest authors to host workshops and question/answer sessions free to members. Plus, you’re part of a membership!

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Gather your coconuts, grab your old pal Wilson, and get on the raft. There’s an online community waiting for you!

With so many options, there is no reason why a writer should have to go it alone. So, gather your coconuts, grab your old pal Wilson, and get on the raft before the isolation drives you mad. There’s an online community waiting for you to join!

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Or just sit on your couch and cry.

I hope you found this post helpful, or at least enjoyable. As always, feel free to leave a comment. Feedback is always welcome.

You’ve Got to Spend Money to Make Money: How Much Does it Cost to Self-Publish?

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We’ve all heard the saying: “You’ve got to spend money to make money.” But how is that relevant to writers? It’s not like we’re running our own business. Or are we? In many respects, writing for a living is just like running a business. You’ve got to create an excellent product and brand. You have to build the platform from which you’ll market your books, and so on and so forth. Sounds like a business to me. And like any business, the key to success is investment.

So, how much should you invest in the creation of your novel? That’s a tricky question, considering there is no set payoff. It’s not like Amazon purchases your novel upfront. But there are several things to consider.

Your Personal Budget. You can’t spend what you don’t have. If you’re drafting a novel, start saving for preproduction costs now!

Expected Earnings. It’s not a secret that self-published authors don’t make a lot. My research shows most self-published authors make between 10-30k annually. The highest being somewhere around 100k. And that does not count taxes.

The Quality of Your Work. Often times, you can tell a self-published novel by the quality of the cover. It’s just not quite up to par. Some of these covers were created by the authors themselves or purchased at a discount. For a professional looking product, sometimes you have to pay more up front.

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How much does it cost to self-publish?

So, how much does it cost to self-publish? Well, going by my own research and experience, this is what I came up with.

Professional Editing: To hire an editor cost anywhere from $15-30 dollars and hour or $15 per 1,000 words. Do the math, and the rough cost estimate is around $1,500 for one manuscript. My own edits costs approx. $700, and that was at an amazing discount!

Cover Design: Whether you find your artist on deviantART, DreamUp, or Elance, the average proposal is between $300-500 per project. Not that you can’t find an artist who will do the work for less. The general rule of thumb is you get what you pay for. The higher proposals usually come with more experience and fancy offers, but that’s not always the case. The key is to find an artist whose style best represents the tone and feel of your novel. Price will vary.

Marketing: In my opinion, it is not beneficial to spend a lot in marketing. Paying for ads is a waste of money. Most of your marketing can be done for free via Twitter and WordPress. If you go through Amazon, the site does most of the work. Goodreads is another great site to promote your novel and host giveaways, etc. Booths for author signings or conventions might be worth the cost. These usually run anywhere from $50 to $1,500 per booth.

ISBN and Copyright Registration: These fees run anywhere from $10 to $500 dollars just depending on who you go through. This is one of those areas where it’s fine to go cheaper. I believe Amazon offers free to low rates on these expenses, but don’t quote me on that.

Supplies: Laptops, paper, pens, scanners, printers, coffee. These expenses cannot be factored into each book but should be considered when factoring overall expenses. After all, printer ink is not cheap.

Extras: Author photographs, book trailers, and other expenses should also be considered.

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Are you willing to spend what is cost to self-publish?

So, what does that come to? By my calculations, you should expect to spend anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 per manuscript, depending on the quality you are hoping to achieve. Of course, you can spend less, but the quality of your book might reflect that. And there is always the exception to the rule.

What is the benefit of investing in these expenses? Payoff, of course. Research shows readers purchase books based on the quality of the cover, blurb, and sample, so you want a cover that is professional and eye catching. You also want your writing to be readable and free of errors. In order to achieve this, you might have to pay an editor and a cover artist. In the long run, your investments should pay off.

Do you agree or disagree? Is it worth the expense? Can a self-published author be just as successful editing their own work and creating their own cover design? Let me know what you think by completing the poll below:

Want to be Featured on Lit Chic? Here’s How!

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Let’s get connected!

Are you an author wanting to connect with readers? Or an editor trying to share your services with writers? Perhaps your blog is helpful to aspiring writers? Whether you’re a writer, editor, agent, or blogger, I am interested in featuring you on my blog.

How does this work?

On the first Friday of each month, I feature a new author, blogger, editor, etc. on my blog. The feature includes a brief bio, the interview, and links to your books, social media sites, etc. I include at least one photo, but additional photos are welcome. The post is never removed and is filed under Featured Authors.

How is the interview conducted?

Once you agree to the interview, you will receive via e-mail a list of interview questions to complete for the blog. The questions are tailored to each individual. If you are social media savvy, I want  to highlight that on my blog. If you have a particular fondness of cats and coffee, I want to include that in the interview. Obviously, editors and agents will be asked different questions. My goal is for each interview to be unique and personalized.

Why be featured?

My goal in creating this blog was to do more than promote myself as a writer. What I’d really like to do is help readers discover new authors and connect writers with editors, and so on, and so forth. To me, social media should be about making connections, and that is exactly what this blog is about. Being featured on my blog is a great opportunity for you to be connected with my growing following.

Want to be featured?

If you want to be featured, you can e-mail me at kyliebetzner@gmail.com. In the regarding line, please include the words “featured” followed by whatever your title is. In the message, please include links to your sites and pictures you’d like to include. I will peruse your social media sites prior to creating the interview. I will get back with you within 48 hours.

Let’s get connected!

Celebrating 101 Followers! (Because the Extra 1 is More Fun)

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Celebrating 101 Followers!!!!!

Six months after starting this blog, I am excited to celebrate 101 followers! Why 101? Because the extra 1 is just more fun. That, and I wanted to use an image from Disney’s 101 Dalmatians. Haha. My advice to any new blogger starting out is to just keep at it. Building a large following takes time and patience. In the meantime, keep posting fresh high-quality material, read and comment to other peoples’ blogs, and share your WordPress activity on Twitter. Trust me, it helps! More importantly, have fun! Don’t get too caught up on statistics. Your readers can tell if you’re just in it for the followers. Keep in mind that social media is a great way to meet new people and build life-long friendships, albeit online ones. Anyway, back to the celebration! In light of this minor and yet momentous achievement, I thought I would promote 10 bloggers who I think are worthy of being followed by sharing their links below.

Once again, thank you for your continuing support, and I look forward to sharing more milestones with you in the near future!